The critically acclaimed poultry-centric restaurant that shuttered last year will reopen in September.
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Welcome to Grub Street’s weekly survey of the most-talked-about, must-visit restaurants in New York City. The list below features spots both new and old ranked according to one important, ever-fluctuating (and admittedly subjective) metric: Who has the most buzz? Perhaps a famed chef has taken over the kitchen, or there’s a new dish you absolutely must order. Maybe the restaurant is just brand-new, or the critics are raving about it. Whatever the reasons, these are the hottest restaurants in New York right now.
1. Lupulo (Last week: 7)
This week, Pete Wells becomes the latest critic to be won over by the charms of George Mendes’s Portuguese pub (a regular occurrence these days). In a two-star review, Wells writes, “you can find clarity in the smells of garlic and wood smoke that fill the dining room … The restaurant may be unfocused, but the cooking isn’t.” All of which is to say, get over to 29th street soon.
2. Seamore’s (1)
In time for summer: a new local-seafood spot from Meatball Shop co-owner Michael Chernow. The place has been packed since it opened, owing, perhaps, to people’s unabated love of all things even vaguely related to Meatball Shop, as well as the eco- and health-friendly cuisine. A killer sandwich probably doesn’t hurt, either.
3. Fuku (5)
The newness is wearing off on David Chang’s chicken shop, and with it, the attendant hype. That, however, doesn’t mean it’s any less popular than it was before. It is indeed leading the city’s great fried-chicken-sandwich boom of 2015. Perhaps a new location will open in Chelsea?
5. Untitled (2)
The consensus opinion on the new Whitney restaurant from Michael Anthony and Danny Meyer: Much better than a museum restaurant needs to be and, in fact, just a very good restaurant in its own right, with Meyer’s famed hospitality and Anthony’s acclaimed focus on simple, seasonal preparations that make the most of sometimes-unsung ingredients.
6. J.G. Melon (downtown location) (New this week)
Just like that, there’s a new J.G. Melon at the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal. A spot check revealed a devotion to the details of the original, right down to the types of cups used when you ask for the requisite side of mayo. There are other new touches — some craft beers on tap, for one — but this is, for the most part, a loving tribute to the UES institution.
7. Babu Ji (Off last week)
It seems Avenue B is the home of everyone’s favorite new Indian-by-way-of-Melbourne restaurant, where the butter chicken is great, and you can grab your own beer from the fridge. The smart move, though, is to get the chef’s table and let the kitchen send out a greatest-hits-style spread of dishes, and then, of course, the kulfi.
8. Clocktower (11)
If you’ve got some money to spend, Stephen Starr’s new hotel restaurant is the spot to do it these days: The menu is larded up with luxe ingredients (uni, foie, huge prime steaks, and Dover sole all appear on chef Jason Atherton’s menu) and the ambiance is all dark wood and supple leather.
9. Tempura Matsui (New this week)
Will New Yorkers — and, let’s be honest, out-of-town tourists — take to the idea of $200 tempura omakase experiences? Well, maybe. If it were ever going to happen, this is almost certainly the place, with Masao Matsui turning out fresh ingredients in paper-thin shells of batter.
10. El Cortez (9)
Over in Bushwick, the ever-quotable Stephen Tanner and Chris Young have opened this Mexican-ish spot where you can get nachos, taco salad, a frozen mojito, and even a boozy spin on an Orange Julius called the Orange Julio, which is worth ordering for the name alone.
11. Leyenda (20)
Down in New Orleans, Leyenda partner Ivy Mix took home the “American Bartender of the Year” award at the annual Tales of the Cocktail gathering — and, what luck, her Latin-leaning cocktail bar is right in Brooklyn, so everyone can head over to see what Mix is up to that garnered such acclaim.
12. Vendy Plaza (10)
Last weekend, Vendy concessions returned to La Marqueta in East Harlem. There’s plenty of great food — Hot Bread Kitchen, Luke’s Lobster — but one to really watch for is Lechonera La Piraña, which turns out some seriously impressive pork.
13. Maite (Off last week)
Here’s the Underground Gourmet on this Bushwick newcomer from chef Ella Schmidt: “nothing about the place seems phony or calculated, and the menu, limited as it is to a dozen or so dishes, manages to surprise even jaded locavores by focusing on the daily produce and inventive ways to integrate it.” (With a description like that, is it any surprise that Schmidt once cooked under Estela chef Ignacio Mattos?)
14. Gabriel Kreuther (12)
The early word is that Kreuther’s brand-new, high-end midtown swank temple is still finding its footing, trying to nail down the polish that matches the luxe dining room. Given Kreuther’s pedigree, it’s easy to imagine a scenario in which things get ironed out.
16. Sessanta (Off last week)
John McDonald’s two-month-old coastal Italian spot in the Sixty Soho hotel has an easygoing vibe and the kind of straightforward, crowd-pleasing menu that’s just what you want on a lovely, late-July evening.
17. Union Square Cafe (Off last week)
Even though Danny Meyer’s flagship restaurant will soon leave its current home, the restaurateur and his team have found a new home just a few blocks away, which is good news for everyone, and a good reason to stop in and at least have a congratulatory drink.
19. Wildair (18)
The new, comfortable place from the Contra team gets it: Affordable bottles of relatively obscure natural wine are the stars of the show, and the short, simple food menu is full of items that complement the vino and tweak things just enough to not feel like the same old dishes you’ve had at other wine bars.
20. Houseman (19)
Ned Baldwin, who spent some time working at Prune, has opened this neighborhood spot near Tribeca, and the early word is that he’s done well to make a similarly approachable, low-key spot. If you’re in the area, check it out.
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Pete Wells is taken with the vegan chicharrones at El Rey, Steve Cuozzo hates One World Trade’s dining, and Tejal Rao really digs the Four Horsemen.
This week, both Eater critics drop three stars: Robert Sietsema is a fan of the out of the box approach taken at Bushwick’s Farro, and Ryan Sutton declares Stephen Starr and British-import Jason Atherton’s The Clocktower one of New York’s best new restaurants. Here’s a roundup reviews from other critics around town.
Pete Wells, like many before him, finds that he is pleasantly surprised by how much he digs the vegan chicharrones at El Rey: “The dish turns a Mexican street snack, chicharrones de harina, into a salad, and turns salad into an event. These mock pork skins are tossed with mint and sticks of raw jicama in a bowl….They are dusted with smoldering Aleppo pepper and lemony ground sumac, strafed by a terrific hot sauce of chiles and pickled pineapple and mellowed with a nondairy cashew cream.” One star.
Steve Cuozzo (like Ryan Sutton) truly hated his experience at the One World Trade Center’s dining spots. Here’s The Cuozz on One Dine: “The feast included flavor-free ‘tuna crudo’ that would be indistinguishable in a blind tasting from mammal, fish or Jell-O. A few hours earlier, in bar/cafe One Mix, I had ‘Brooklyn sliders’ apparently made from the Manhattan schist displayed in a ground-floor entrance maze.”
Michael Kaminer has a wretched time at Caffe Dante’s replacement Dante: “In memory of Caffe Dante, you’d think those behind Dante would at least ace Italian. No such luck. Creamy, plump burrata ($15) cheese deserves better company than a sad, saggy slow-roasted tomato that’s depressingly close to its canned cousins.” One star.
Tejal Rao really enjoys the wine, food, ambient volume level, and just about everything else at the Four Horsemen, James Murphy’s new wine bar: “Although the beef tartare with sesame crackers looks somewhat lean and Scandinavian, it’s actually nice and fatty, full of flavor and texture. This style of food suits the vibe of the room. It’s better than good but without showing off—a little bit freestyle.” Two stars.
Zachary Feldman takes a culinary trip to Somalia at Safari in Harlem: “[One night] the kitchen had run out of rice for the goat. In the kitchen, chef Munira Musse…substituted a massive pile of noodles coated in a rich basil-rosemary butter sauce, a seeming aberration that makes perfect sense once you consider that Italy controlled a sizable chunk of Somalia from the late nineteenth century through the early days of World War II.”
The Elsewhere: Tables for Two is into the Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, and Malaysian influenced food at L.E.S. restaurant Chomp Chomp. Christina Izzo is impressed with the pedigree of the team at Virginia’s, but less so with their food, giving the place three out of five stars. And, Ligaya Mishan is smitten with the Hungarian summer treat langos (think: fried bread with toppings) from the roving Langos Truck.
The Blogs: The Food Doc is happy to find a toned down version of wd~50 on Alder’s tasting menu. In Williamsburg, Restaurant Girl can’t wait for fall at Oleanders, when diners won’t have to run into pool goers in the shared restrooms. Meanwhile, The Pink Pig enjoys the Flintstones-sized beef ribs at new Bushwick barbecue spot The Shop. And, Joe DiStefano cools down with the “simultaneously sour, spicy, and crunchy” liang fen, or cold noodles with toppings, at Gui Zhou.Click here to read the full post
by Emily Nonko —
57 Park Terrace West, #2G, Inwood
1 bedroom / 1 bath
Approximately 795 square feet
Open House: Sunday, August 2, 1-2 p.m.
Lowdown: This pre-War one-bedroom co-op has retained much of its historic charm.
“You’ve got a sunken living room, built-in bookshelves, arched entrances and original details intact,” said Stribling broker Joy Bergmann. She also noted that the building lobby has two beautiful murals original to the building.
With its “dignified layout,” Bergmann said, “you’re not cramped or cornered in.”
There is a separate master bedroom and a living room, as well as a kitchen (with dishwasher) that opens into a dining room. The large foyer, which has three closets, could easily double as a home office, according to Bergmann.
“The spaciousness of the unit is coupled with the quiet, green atmosphere of the neighborhood,” said Bergmann.
Location: This co-op building is less than a 5-minute walk to the sprawling Inwood Hill Park. There are also cafes and businesses two blocks away on Broadway. Although the subway trip into Lower Manhattan isn’t a quick commute, you’re a few blocks from the 215th Street 1 train and about a seven-minute walk through Isham Park to the Inwood/207th Street Express A train.
Why put it on your open house calendar? “Space,” Bergmann stated. “More space.” For a lower price point, she said, you’re getting four real rooms, all of which are large. She also called Inwood a “gentler, quieter and greener place to live in Manhattan.”
485 Central Park West, #4G, Manhattan Valley
1 bedroom / 1 bath
Approximately 521 square feet
Open House: Sunday, August 2, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Lowdown: Walking into the lobby of this Art Deco building, across the street from Central Park, “will send you back in time,” said Halstead broker Dina Cohen.
The apartment’s interior has historic details, too, including wood floors with trim and 10-foot high ceilings, which create a feeling of extra spaciousness.
“It’s very cute — the perfect starter apartment,” said Cohen.
The kitchen alcove has a breakfast bar next to a window, which opens the space up, Cohen said. The ample living room can fit a couch and entertainment system, she added. Two large closets — one in the foyer and one in the bedroom — allow for some extra storage.
The seller, who bought the apartment more than 20 years ago when she was a student at Columbia University, has updated both the kitchen and the bathroom. She rented it out for the past several years while living abroad.
“Unlike most co-ops, the sublet policy is flexible here,” said Cohen.
After a buyer has lived in their apartment for two years, they are able to rent it out indefinitely. It’s also a pet friendly building.
Location: It’s hard to argue with being so close to Central Park. “When you’re leaving the lobby, you can see the park and the trees right outside,” said Cohen.
The building is at the northwest corner of the park, near the North Woods and just a short walk to the Harlem Meer and Lasker Rink and Pool.
Just north of the building is Frederick Douglas Boulevard with its host of new businesses. You can catch the B/C train a block away, or walk two blocks east to the 2/3 stop at Central Park North/110th Street.
Why put it on your open house calendar? “It’s well-priced for the location,” said Cohen, adding that the flexible rental policy is attractive to many buyers.
25 Tudor City Pl., #2115, Murray Hill
Studio / 1 bath
Approximately 320 square feet
Open House: Sunday, August 2, 11-12:30 p.m.
Lowdown: The Tudor City complex is well known for its cozy, 300-square-foot apartments that remain reasonably priced. The three-block-long complex was originally built in the 1920s for middle-class renters.
This studio at 25 Tudor City Pl. is different than many others in the building since it underwent a gut renovation, according to Corcoran broker Laurie Dietz.
“From soup to nuts, everything has been redone,” said Dietz.
The seller is a contractor who worked on the place himself. He redid the bathroom with new tiles, a vanity closet and a stall shower. He installed a built-in entertainment system and new closets with built-in shelving. He painted the floor black, installed new sheetrock for insulation and updated the kitchen.
“Out of all the units I’ve sold at Tudor City, this is my favorite,” said Dietz, “Because the renovation has so much taste.”
The kitchen still retains the compact Pullman setup found in most Tudor City studios. There’s space for a half fridge, microwave, convection oven and portable stove with two burners.
A buyer would need to set up a Murphy bed to utilize any extra living space. With a traditional bed, the studio would feel something like a modest hotel room, according to Dietz. She said the current owner sleeps on a pull-out sofa bed.
Location: Within the Tudor City complex, there are four shaded parks, businesses, restaurants and a full-scale gym. You’re within walking distance of Grand Central Terminal as well as the businesses of Midtown East and Murray Hill.
Although the complex is located along the East River, access to the waterfront is scarce, blocked off by the United Nations Headquarters. The closest subway for residents is the 4/5/6 at Grand Central.
Why put it on your open house calendar: “This unit is really special in that it has been renovated for 2015 living,” said Dietz, who also noted that the price is right for such a central Manhattan location.